Nov 30 2010
In its third major release of classified information this year, the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.org released over a quarter of a million classified State Department diplomatic cables, most of them from the years 2006 to 2009. A small number of news organizations including the New York Times, and the Guardian of London were given early access to analyze and publish the communiques from American diplomats stationed around the world. Among the treasure trove of material that has embarrassed the US is the revelation that American diplomats stationed overseas are now routinely expected to spy on government officials and heads-of-state of countries where they are stationed, and the United Nations. The spying includes gathering personal and banking details as well as biometric data like fingerprints and DNA. The secret memos also reveal private communications by foreign government officials about third countries. For example, the Saudi king has been revealed to be urging the US to take military action against Iran’s nuclear program. The Obama administration’s reaction has been predictable, aggressively condemning the release of the memos while warning that innocent lives are being endangered. Australia, where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is a citizen, is collaborating with the US government in attempting to bring criminal charges against Assange under the Espionage Act. This latest release of 251,000 diplomatic cables are thought to have originated from the same source as the Iraq and Afghan war logs released earlier this year. The documents are assumed to have been down-loaded from the Pentagon’s internal computer network SIPRnet which stands for the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, which more than 2.5 million people have access to.
GUEST: Phyllis Bennis, directs the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and is the author of numerous books, her latest being Ending the War in Afghanistan: A Primer
Only 281 cables have been released to the public so far with more slated for release in the near future. They can be found online at http://cablegate.wikileaks.org